From TV’s No. 1 to digital hit, ‘Ang Probinsyano’ poised to continue, assures Coco Martin

Iconic action series now counts WeTV, iflix as streaming venues

‘Ang Probinsyano,’ which stars Coco Martin as the hero cop Cardo, was the overall No. 1 TV program in the Philippines prior to the forced broadcast shutdown of ABS-CBN’s Channel 2. File/ABS-CBN

MANILA — The Philippines’ undisputed No. 1 TV program until its home network ABS-CBN was forced off free broadcast in mid-2020, the long-running “FPJ’s Ang Probinsyano” has re-emerged as a massive digital hit, with an ever-growing list of platforms where viewers can follow the iconic Cardo’s crusade for justice.

Since its September 2015 debut on ABS-CBN’s Channel 2, “Ang Probinsyano” had been the consistent top TV show across the country, according to Kantar Media, until a congressional panel voted to reject the network’s bid for a fresh broadcast franchise.

In February 2020, the last full-month survey of Kantar Media prior to the coronavirus lockdown, “Ang Probinsyano” retained that distinction with an average national TV rating of 34%. Its highest-ever viewership for a single episode — 47.2% nationwide — was recorded in October 2018.

“Ang Probinsyano” then migrated fully to digital in July 2020, a month ahead of the launch of Kapamilya Online Live, the free livestreaming of ABS-CBN programs on YouTube and Facebook.

Cardo (Coco Martin) would go on to mark numerous milestones in terms of concurrent viewership online, or those watching its live stream at the same time — from 56,000 for its digital debut, separate from Kapamilya Online Live; to 80,000 on YouTube alone in January 2021.

Its Kapamilya Online Live audience would steadily grow in the following months. In the first half of March 2021, for instance, “Ang Probinsyano” slowly but surely breached the 100,000 mark — now its average.

Meanwhile, the four-part upload of each episode, accessible for a week immediately after its Kapamilya Online Live stream, now averages a total of 2 million views on YouTube.

‘DAHAN-DAHAN, NAKAKABANGON’

Those numbers exclude the audience of “Ang Probinsyano” on other digital platforms. The series has long been available on ABS-CBN’s iWant TFC — and starting March 20, will also stream on WeTV and iflix, along with two other “Primetime Bida” programs.

It's time to celebrate! 🥂

WeTV iflix will now show your favorite ABS-CBN Primetime Bida teleseryes 'FPJ's Ang Probinsyano,' 'Huwag Kang Mangamba', and 'Init sa Magdamag' two days earlier than free TV starting this Saturday, March 20 for AP & HKM. ❤️💚💙#WeTViflixKapamilyapic.twitter.com/BBOo8CCIIq

— iflix Philippines (@iflixph) March 17, 2021

“Primetime Bida” is also seen on cable via Kapamilya Channel; and on free and digital television via TV5 (nationwide) and A2Z Channel 11 (Metro Manila and nearby provinces).

“Sobrang saya,” Martin said of ABS-CBN’s partnership with WeTV iflix. “Dinadasal halos lahat ‘yan ng mga taga-ABS-CBN, na dahan-dahan at muli tayong makabangon, na maipalabas ulit ang lahat ng pinaghihirapan nating mga teleserye, pelikula.”

Martin was among several primetime stars of ABS-CBN who attended the virtual trade show of WeTV iflix on Wednesday, where the “Primetime Bida” deal was announced.

Under the partnership, episodes of three primetime programs — “Ang Probinsyano,” “Huwag Kang Mangamba,” and “Init sa Magdamag” — can be accessed by VIP users of WeTV iflix two days ahead of their regular broadcast.

“Ang ABS-CBN, kung anuman ang nangyari — may pandemya man, nawalan man tayo ng prangkisa — hindi huminto,” Martin said. “Patuloy pa rin tayong lumalaban, kasi hindi lang para sa atin ‘tong ginagawa natin. Para sa lahat ng mga empleyado ng ABS-CBN, para sa pagseserbisyo natin sa lahat ng mga Pilipino, ginagawa natin ‘to.”

Noting the respective debuts of “Huwag Kang Mangamba” on March 22 and “Init sa Magdamag” on April 19, Martin added: “Alam ko, lahat, pinaghihirapan, tinututukan, mas lalong pinagbubuti. Tuloy ang trabaho para mapaligaya natin ang mga tao, especially ang mga Pilipino na naghihirap at ito lang ang nagiging kaligayahan nila sa gabi-gabi at nakakapagbigay sa kanila ng inspirasyon.”

“Kaya, laban lang! Tulong-tulong lang. Hindi susuko para sa lahat ng mga Pilipino.”

‘NAPAKAHABA PA NG LALAKBAYIN’

Over the years since the 2015 debut of ‘Ang Probinsyano,’ Coco Martin’s character Cardo has become a pop culture icon. ABS-CBN

Prior to the March unveiling of ABS-CBN’s partnerships with TV5 and WeTV iflix, a media report claimed that “Ang Probinsyano” was due to conclude “soon” — a rumor subsequently denied by the Kapamilya network.

Martin, who is also one of the creative heads of “Ang Probinsyano,” similarly said on Wednesday that the series’ end is indeed not yet in sight.

“Hitik na hitik pa kami sa kuwento. Nagsisimula pa lang maghiganti si Cardo para kay Alyana,” he said, referring to the character of Yassi Pressman, who exited the show in February.

The characters of Lorna Tolentino (Lily), Joel Torre (Teddy), Susan Roces (Lola Flora), Richard Gutierrez (Lito), and Jane de Leon (Lia) will also have their respective arcs, Martin teased.

“Sa napakaraming characters, napakarami niya pang pupuntahan,” he said. “Hitik — ‘yung action, drama, comedy, romance, lahat ‘yan pupuntahan namin.”

“Kung pag-uusapan natin ang istorya, napakahaba pa ng lalakbayin ng kuwento natin,” Martin said.

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